100 Women Who Care Windsor-Essex Seeks To Make A Bigger Impact
How can an organization with no staff, no funding, and minimal guidelines raise over $400,000 in 10 years?
It’s simple. Actually, that is the answer.
The simplicity of 100 Women Who Care is the reason for its success.
“It’s the concept of bringing women together, listening to charities, writing a cheque directly to that charity, and doing it in a one-hour time frame — that’s the only guiding principle of it,” explains Maureen Lucas, Co-founder of the local 100 Women Who Care chapter.
In 2012, Lucas, President of LucasWorks! Recruitment & Human Resource Specialists, was in London visiting one of her office locations. Her branch manager mentioned the 100 Women organization and suggested starting a Windsor chapter.
Lucas then met with Liz Farano, Vice President of Douglas Marketing Group (DMG), and at a group session with 70 people willing to join, the two founded the Windsor-Essex chapter.
The first meeting of the 100 Women Who Care Windsor-Essex chapter took place in February 2013 (year one). It kick-started 10 more years (and counting) of women coming together to help raise much-needed funds for area organizations.
The local chapter is based on the original 100 Women Who Care that was founded in Jackson, Michigan.
At a work meeting in 2006, Karen Dunigan learned of a local need: new mothers were bringing home babies and having them sleep in boxes or dresser drawers because they could not afford cribs; some of the children did not survive. She asked what cribs and bedding would cost to help those in need — $10,000.
Dunigan thought about who could write a big cheque, but then realized that she probably knew 100 women who could each give $100. In a one-hour meeting with friends, she raised $12,800 to solve the local need. Dunigan then launched 100 Women Who Care (now part of the 100 Who Care Alliance) and started the format that is used today by nearly 900 chapters, comprised of women, men, kids, and teens.
A typical meeting starts with three presentations from local charities. 100 Women Who Care Windsor-Essexattendees vote on their preferred presentation and at the end of the night, they write a $100 cheque directly to the charity with the most votes.
The chapter meets four times a year — in February, May, August and November — so the commitment is $400 annually (whether you attend or not). A group of four friends can also connect to donate $25 each, but share their single vote. That’s it.
“It’s a grassroots organization that supports other charitable organizations,” Lucas indicates. “We handle no money and the member gets the donation receipt.”
Lucas sold her business in 2017 and is now the Entrepreneur In Residence at the University of Windsor EPICentre.
She donates her time along with a few other members to do the administrative work, like Chantelle Meadows, the group’s Community Liaison; Meadows’s daughter also does all of the Facebook Live charity draws.
Along with being the Co-founder of the group, Farano and her team at Douglas Marketing Group contribute everything web and graphic design related.
“They have made us look good for 10 years, which has been a wonderful and long commitment,” says Lucas.
Meeting space is donated by in-kind sponsors (such as the Windsor Yacht Club and the Ciociaro Club) and food is either donated or paid for by a group member. This year, St. Clair College is a diamond sponsor, adding a $1,000 donation to each of the four meetings, along with providing food and meeting space.
Other Companies Who Care are: Tina Pickle and Mark A. Eugeni of Manor Realty’s The Legal Edge Team, RBC Dominion Securities, The Cabinet Studio (Canada) Inc., Logic Executive Search & Workplace Solutions, REALTOR Nick Bibic of Buckingham Realty, WFCU (Windsor Family Credit Union), Green Shield Canada and TD Bank.
Along with St. Clair College, these sponsors will also donate $1,000 a year to be added to member donations.
Many of the group’s current members have been involved since that first group session.
So, what has kept the two founders and others committed to the cause for a decade?
“The absolute joy that every single woman has in being a part of something whereby, in contributing $100 in one hour, that becomes a $10,000 donation to a charity,” says Lucas. “You feel like you have a real impact and you know that what you are giving the money to is a very specific project or a program that’s running or an underfunded program.”
Lucas comments that the model gives more of a hands-on feeling about where the money is going, especially the charities that invite the group to come out and see their donations in action.
There is also the added reward of supporting so many worthy causes in Windsor Essex.
“I love that we support them all,” she expresses. “We get to not just focus on one need in our community, but we get to share the wealth amongst all the great demand that these different charities have.”
When asked which stories of giving really stand out, there are just so many in her opinion.
One heart-warming presentation was from the Windsor/Essex County Humane Society (WECHS) who talked about the animals not adopted; the funds were used to keep the animals in the shelter.
Since winners come to the next meeting to collect their big cheque, WECHS came with some of the dogs who were saved.
LaSalle/Windsor Special Olympics was another memorable recipient in 2017.
One of the athletes went to the world stage to compete and came home with three medals.
“That was hugely satisfying, to know that we supported an organization that gave athletes a chance to compete,” Lucas states. “Every single charity has something so special and that’s why they get in our hearts and that’s why we’re writing the cheques . . . because we feel so strongly about what we’re doing to help them.”
As in many other cities, 100 Men Who Give A Damn and 100 Kids Who Care were created based on the success of 100 Women Who Care. Unfortunately, it was a struggle to keep those branches going and maintain the momentum during the pandemic. Whereas it was great to see the impact the groups had, Lucas hopes that some leaders will step forward to bring those groups back.
In the meantime, she wants people to know that anyone (not just women) is welcome at their meetings and will be greeted warmly. The group also ensures that it gives to a wide variety of charities that reach the entire community as well, including health, animals, sport, safety, addictions, and youth.
For 100 Women Who Care Windsor-Essex, the pandemic affected them as well.
No longer able to meet in person, and with the June 27th Miracle food drivebeing promoted, they emailed members and suggested that a donation to a food bank would be a great way to keep the mission going. Then they went virtual.
“We just knew that we didn’t want to stop what we were doing,” says Lucas. “Women kept reaching out to say, ‘I really hope we can keep this going’, so we did.”
For the new format, charities were asked to submit video presentations; the attendees could watch the videos during a Facebook Live session, and then vote online.
Now back to in-person meetings, the group is hoping to bump up the quarterly donations to $15,000.
As part of the group’s 10-year anniversary, they are including Companies Who Care to raise the giving level, but hope that beyond this year they can sustain that amount through growing their membership.
Lucas says that it is important to be adaptable and the organizers watch trends in giving to see what they should be doing to ensure a great experience for the donors.
After COVID-19, that meant keeping the virtual option available for members who did not want to come to a live meeting.
It is all about engagement and momentum.
“We want to keep going and keep things fresh,” Lucas emphasizes. “We try to do fun things at the events. Our goal is to keep this group thriving so that $50,000 goes into the community that would not otherwise go into our community.”
That growth goal should be attainable based on the loyalty of the group’s current membership and the ability to tap into their networks. Let’s now find out from seven women why they became members of the organization and what stands out for them.